By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
3 June 2014
The terrible state of the country’s jails is due to poor management by the top hierarchy of the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS), a former prison officer said on Tuesday.
Shepherd Yuda was a prisons officer who fled the country after he clandestinely shot a video showing how President Mugabe’s ZANU PF party rigged the ballots in the 2008 elections. He called for an overhaul of the country’s prison system to rectify the ‘never ending crisis.’
Last week the deputy commissioner general of the ZPS, Aggrey Machingauta, disclosed that Chikurubi Maximum Security prison has gone for 10 years without running water.
Many other prisons are facing water problems after local authorities and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority disconnected supplies. The ZPS owe the local authorities over $2 million in water bills.
Appearing before the Senate Thematic Committee on Human Rights, Machingauta told legislators that inmates are entitled to clean water and proper sanitation but the prevailing situation in most institutions is appalling.
Yuda said before he fled the country authorities at Chikurubi were already using borehole water. Most senior officers were concerned more about their welfare and that of their families instead of the prisons and their inmates.
‘You need to drill boreholes and connect them to an industrial generator and that can pump water into the whole Chikurubi complex. But the little money they get from treasury is all used to buy top of the range and luxury vehicles for the senior officers,’ Yuda added.
The country has roughly 35,000 people incarcerated in 42 jails, but this is well over their intended capacity of about 17,000 inmates. The inmates include 80 juveniles, 308 women and 29 babies who are staying with their mothers.
Yuda explained that there was need to build special facilities that cater for women prisoners who have babies and prevent a situation where toddlers contract diseases from the filthy cells they are held in with their mothers.